Arsenal finished the disrupted 2019/20 season on a high, courtesy of the impressive 2-1 win over Chelsea in the FA Cup final. New Gunners manager Mikel Arteta lifted his first trophy since taking over from Unai Emery in December of 2019.
However, Arsenal failed to qualify for the lucrative UEFA Champions League for yet another season, thanks to their 8th placed league finish. However, the FA Cup win ensured that the Gunners qualify for at least the UEFA Europa League.
Spirits were high in the Arsenal dressing room courtesy of the FA Cup win, and it was further bolstered by their penalty shootout win over Liverpool in the Community Shield.
Despite the impressive showing in the FA Cup and the Community Shield, the need for a squad overhaul was apparent for all to see. The Gunners had a severely bloated squad, with an astronomical wage bill, not helped by the club's lack of participation in the Champions League or the financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Gunners needed to free up the wage bill to make room for new signings, while also ensuring that they tie several key members of the squad to long-term deals. Arsenal fans were especially sweating over the future of captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who had less than a year left on his original contract.
Arsenal embarked on the journey toward the promised land by tying down talented youngsters Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to long-term deals.
The Gunners then converted loan deals of Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares into permanent ones, with Mari setting the club back by approximately £7 million in transfer fees.
Chelsea winger Willian was the next to be added to the ranks, with the Brazilian completing a free transfer to the Emirates stadium after running down his contract with the Blues. The 32-year-old put pen to paper on a three-year deal.
Arsenal, finally, add some much needed steel to their midfield
The first major foray by the Gunners into the transfer market was with the £22 million capture of Gabriel Magalhaes from Lille, beating stiff competition from European giants Napoli and Paris-Saint Germain. Midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan was allowed to mutually terminate his contract in order to secure a permanent move to Roma, where he spent the 2019/20 season on loan.
Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos was the next to arrive, with the Gunners re-signing the Spaniard for a second successive loan spell.
Arsenal fans were then greeted with arguably the biggest signing of the window, as club captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang committed his long-term future to the club, despite confirmed interest from Barcelona among other clubs. The 31 year old signed a three-year contract, which would see him become the highest-paid player at the club.
With all the incomings and the renewals, there was a growing concern of balancing the books and generating the required funds to strengthen midfield, Arsenal's biggest cause of concern going into the 2020/21 season.
Arsenal had to bite the bullet and sell one of the fan favourites in Emiliano Martinez, who departed in a £20 million transfer to Aston Villa. The Gunners swiftly replaced the Argentine with Runar Alex Runarsson of FC Dijon.
Arsenal were linked with moves for Atletico Madrid's Thomas Partey and Lyon's Houssem Aouar, but couldn't complete a deal for either in September. There was growing optimism among the club's hierarchy that a deal could be completed for Aouar, with several rounds of talks held between Arsenal and Lyon.
However, the Gunners' attempt to sign the Lyon midfielder ultimately proved futile, with the two clubs failing to find common ground on the terms of a deal.
Out-of-favour midfielder Matteo Guendouzi was loaned to Hertha SBC on deadline day, before Uruguayan powerhouse Lucas Torreira joined Atletico Madrid on a season-long loan deal with an option to secure his services permanently at the end of the deal.
Arsenal finally managed to add some much needed steel and creativity to their midfield with the 11th hour capture of Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey. Costing €50 million, it was a statement signing for the Gunners, who left it till late to complete one of the best deals of the summer.
Despite not being able to offload as many players as the club would've hoped for, the Gunners end the window in a much better position than they started it. The club hierarchy has backed the manager in their pursuit of a top 4 finish, and will be hoping that Mikel Arteta delivers.Published 06 Oct 2020, 15:04 IST